Each Covid-ing in Their Own Way

SpringPaysCovidNoMind

Here we are at forty-something days into social distancing and doing pretty much the same. (I am better from my stupid cold from hell though!) I feel bad posting photos of us doing well and enjoying the nice spring weather when so many others are cooped up indoors and doing badly.  Things could be so so so much worse. But I thought I should check in anyway with a catch-up for my own documenting posterity.

The weather has been extremely nice. Spring is here with a flourish. Flowers are exploding and birds are going bananas. I’m just waiting for the other foot to fall and the bugs start coming out. So far, so good.

I’ve taken to walking the dogs in the early morning and chatting with my dad through our earbuds. We both have been remarking at how much we notice the bird sounds that we can hear from each other’s ambient sound. Earbuds are amazing. That’s one thing that this pandemic has really helped. We are all learning new ways to stay in touch with new technology and it is awesome.

My dad has discovered Zoom and is the new self-designated AV guy for his church, bringing God’s word to all the shut-ins (of which there are many, naturally). It’s just as awesome as it sounds. I think he’s found his calling.

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The girls are managing through long-distance learning with ease. Again, we are stupidly lucky compared to so many and I feel guilty. (Is this a thing? That I constantly feel like I should be suffering more? I should just shut up and enjoy it but I do constantly feel guilty.) The girls are both self-motivated and get good grades without much antagonization from us.  It’s great. They are not taking advantage of all the links to extended learning that their uncles are sending them neither are they visiting virtual museums. They are not helping around the house or sewing masks for the homeless. They are becoming really good at gaming, binge-watching Netflix and occasionally baking.

To each their own.

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We are getting used to masks. I need to step up my sewing game but I am severely side-tracked because I started sewing some wide-legged trousers out of some old sheets. The project is going very slowly and I am hating it. I have never followed a pattern before (outside of that one dress in home-ec in 7th grade) so I thought I’d take this time to teach myself. It’s taken a few facetime calls to my mom and I’m stuck at the bias tape stage. I should finish soon but I don’t let myself work on them during work hours so it’s slow-going.

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I’m getting really good at snail mail though. I’ve added it to my daily routine with my daily coffee.  I need more routines like a hole in my head. I spend probably half of my day doing little routines and rituals and never really getting down to work. I doodle and glue and tape and send off little messages of love to whoever wants one. I’m not sure if it brings me more joy or the recipients. Right now I’m focusing on creating art with recycled cardboard and bits. I never look at a cereal or pasta box or cardboard from a pack of sparkling seltzer water without thinking about how many postcards I can cut out of it. It’s kind of silly but fun. I mean, why not, right? Who needs to be buying chip board right now when our recycling bins are over-flowing?

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We have fallen off the Die-t wagon pretty bad. There may have been a few nights where pizza was ordered and chips and salsa were devoured. I am feeling pretty crappy about it. But I’m vowing to get back to it. It’s a marathon, right? Not a sprint. Slip-ups happen and we have to not give-up. I love making up meals ahead of time. I make big batches of lentils and coleslaw and pack them away in individual serving containers. It definitely helps with lunches and dinners when the kids just want mac and cheese or worse, take-out.

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The other night we actually barbequed outside and it felt like a field trip. I miss traveling and planning camping trips. It’s terrible that my Little Hoo Goes Camping book is coming out soon and I can’t even promote it because it just doesn’t make sense right now. But when this is over I am throwing the most fun camping-themed book party EVER!

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How long will this be the new normal? One year, two years? I miss the old normal.

Raarrr! Masks: a DIY

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Who goes there? Coronavirus Raarr MONSTERS?!! Let’s get our growls out!

I decided I’m going to share this. It’s hard giving up good ideas (remember Merbaby?). I hate it when I’m shopping and I see something I thought up in a box on the shelves but it is what it is and I am in no position to copyright and patent and trademark anything right now. If you want to do it for me you know how to contact me. Also, it’s not like someone else hasn’t thought of this already. If they haven’t, why not!?? If you have kids who like “teef” as I do, you should get busy with your sewing machine and make one of these! It’s very fun and what else are you doing? Watching Tiger King? Just get your sewing machine out already and do it.

I know I say everything is easy but really, this is. Except for step six. I hate step six. I guess I’m just not that experienced as a seamstress. But whatever. Now’s a great time to polish up my skillz. Woot.

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So here is what you’ll need: 

  • a 9×16 inch piece of solid cotton fabric (Prints just don’t do the “teef” justice.) (Smaller if you are making for a child. I’m not going to do the math for you because I suck at math. Just wing it down a third or so, depending on your kid’s face size. What can I say, some kids have BIG faces!)
  • white craft foam (Who knew! Everybody has some stuffed in a craft drawer somewhere. If you don’t, get some already!)
  • the bottom cut off an old t-shirt
  • a sewing machine (Everyone else might as well pass on this whole post.)
  • sharp sewing scissors (You don’t have any? It’s about time you ordered some!! And when you get them put some tape on there that says FABRIC ONLY. It’s time to adult up.)

Okay, let’s, get to it!

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My Aunt Keren was a professional seamstress when I was growing up. She taught me to sew. I used to spend long hours in her sewing room. I got my first Barbie doll (and only Barbie doll until recently.) at age 14 and I used to make clothes for the doll with the scraps leftover from my aunt’s sewing projects. I had a whole drawer in her sewing room that was the Barbie doll’s apartment. Wallpaper on the sides of the drawer, a check box for the bed. It’s hard to believe I was so into that doll at age 14. I guess that’s what happens when your mom won’t let you have Barbies as a young child because she’s worried about body dysmorphic disorder–which I totally got anyway despite her best efforts.

My Aunt Keren taught me how to harmonize. We used to sing hymns together to the sound of her whirring machine and her bird, Jasper, singing in the background and mumbling about what a pretty bird he was… oh memories!  Anyway, one of the many lessons that my aunt taught me was to iron and be tidy when you are sewing. Snip your threads as you go because lose threads later are signs of a mess. So I do that still and I have pride in it. Funny how these lessons stick. Just like I always wash my paintbrushes carefully… teach your kids these lessons, they stick!

Okay, off soapbox.

Step one and two are to sew a 1/4 inch hem on the short ends of your 9×16″ rectangle. This will create the finished edge of your filter pocket. Then fold your rectangle in thirds with the hemmed edges overlapping about an inch. Cut your 1″ inch thick ring of t-shirt fabric and cut it in half.

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Step 3: Take your two lengths of t-shirt string and pin the ends into the corners of your rectangle. These are going to be your straps that you tie the mask on with. Yes, they are way too long but that is good because it leaves plenty of room to customize later. The most important part of this step is to make sure that the straps are out of the way of where your side seams are going to go.

If you are having trouble visualizing where these straps go, just scroll down and take a peek at the finished product. They are kind of like two very long mirrored “Cs” (Coco Chanel style) that are going towards the center with their ends stuck in the corners.

Confused yet? Sorry. I should have just made a movie but my laptop is out of scratch disk space so I got no time for movie editing until I fix that problem. So basically pin everything together and sew a 1/2 inch seam down the short ends of your folded rectangle. AND! Don’t forget to remove your pins before you sew over them and break a needle. Been there, done that a few times. It sucks.

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Step Four: Turn it inside out! Now do those long straps make sense? Then iron everything, like Auntie Keren says.

I should probably mention that I don’t think you should iron craft foam. I think heat can melt it. This does create a sanitation problem (I also don’t recommend washing in hot water or worse putting in the dryer) but we all know this mask is for fashion and not for doing surgery. It will keep you from touching your mouth. It won’t keep you from catching COVID. It just slows the spreading. Capeesh? Okay. Moving on.

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Step Five: Add the TEEF! Maybe this could have been done earlier in step two. Yeah, that would probably be smarter. Hopefully, you read all the instructions before you start and you will do that but if not, Have no fear! It’s still doable at this step. How do I know? Because that’s what I did! :P

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Step 6: Now it’s time for the hard part: sewing pleats. I don’t know why I struggle so hard getting my pleats even but I do. It doesn’t help that the pocket section makes it even thicker in the middle. I think putting aside your perfectionism is the best approach here. Just add three pleats as evenly as you can and sew it. A good tip is to NOT use contrasting thread. It’s gonna be messy if you are a beginner level sewing non-expert like me. Get over it. Maybe someday I will be better at this step.

When you are done with the pleats you are done!

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If you make one of these please send me a picture! I would love to see all the coronavirus monsters out there killin’ it!